447-575 A.H.   /   1055-1180 A.D.

Toghril Beg at Bagdad, 447 A.H. 1055 A.D.

TOGHRIL BEG was in no haste to leave Bagdad, and it was not long before he found, in a riot of the populace against his wild troops, excuse for casting Melik Rahim into prison, and assuming in his own hands the government of the city. The Deilemi soldiers were at once disbanded. Quitting Al-'Irak they rallied round Al-Basasiri, who had joined the Fatimid cause in Syria, and who soon waxed strong enough to rout a column of the Seljuk, forces. Alarmed at the tidings, Toghril, after having rested a year in Bagdad, during which the Caliph in vain besought him to rid the city of his Turkish hordes, set out on a campaign to Nasibin and Mosul.

499 A.H.

Returning victorious, he was met by the Caliph with crowns and dresses of honour, and saluted as "Emperor of the East and of the West." But in the following year, Toghril being called back by the revolt of his brother to Persia, Al-Basasiri, at the head of his Syrian levies, entered Bagdad and proclaimed the Caliphate of the Fatimid ruler of Egypt.

450 A.H. 1058 A.D.

The grand Wazir of Toghril was taken prisoner, and, exposed in an ox-hide to the contempt of the populace, was thus hanged. Even Al-Kaim, abjuring his own right, was forced to swear fealty to the rival Caliph. The emblems of the 'Abbasid Caliphate, robes and turban, ancient jewels, and royal pulpit, were sent to Cairo, with Al-Kaim's formal renunciation of the dignity.1 But the hateful usurpation was not to last long. The supporters of Al-Basasiri fell away as Toghril Beg again approached; and just a year after his entry the usurper fled,

1 The robes, etc., were sent back by Saladin, but the pulpit is said to be still in Cairo.


and Al-Kaim reassumed his office. He continued in honour with the Seljuk monarch, who sued for the hand of his daughter. At first refused, the Sultan obtained it in the end, but died shortly after the marriage feast.

Death of Kaim.

Alp Arslan's reign which followed, not only extended far and wide the spiritual dominion of Al-Kaim but restored to Bagdad a security long unknown, and with it again the arts of commerce, peace, and learning. But we hear little of Al-Kaim, who throughout his prolonged Caliphate showed himself weak and aimless. He died two years after Alp Arslan and was succeeded by his grandson.

Muktadi, 467-487 A.H. 1075-1094 A.D.

Al-Muktadi the new Caliph, was honoured by the Sultan Melik Shah, during whose reign the Caliphate was recog­nised throughout the extending range of Seljuk conquest. Arabia, with the Holy Cities, now recovered from the Fatimid grasp, acknowledged again the spiritual jurisdiction of the 'Abbasids. The Sultan gave his daughter in marriage to the Caliph; and on the birth of a son, dreamed of combining in him at once the Caliph and the Sultan on a common throne. But the dream was fruitless. The lady, dissatisfied, retired with her infant to the court of Ispahan. And the Sultan himself, becoming jealous of the Caliph's interference in the affairs of state, desired him to refrain and retire to Al-Basra; but the death of Melik Shah shortly after, made the command inoperative.

Mustazhir, 487-512 A.H. 1094-1118 A.D.

Al-Mustazhir succeeded his father. During his four-and-­twenty years' incumbency there were stirring tunes; yet whether in the history of the fanatical strife at home, or of the startling Crusade of the Christians in the Syrian lands, the Caliph's name is hardly ever noticed. The Seljuk, whose rule was weakened by intestine broils, cared little for the interests of Islam. Towards the close of the fifth century A.H., the Christian arms spread all over Syria.

497 A.H. 1103 A.D.

A bootless attempt was even made by Raimond to fall upon Bagdad by an eastern circuit, and so inflict a deadly blow upon Islam; but the force was attacked by the enemy near to Tokat, scattered and cut to pieces, so that but few escaped.

Capture of Jerusalem, July 15, 1099 A.D.

In the year 492 A.H., consternation was spread throughout the land by the capture of Jerusalem, and cruel treatment of its inhabitants. Preachers went about proclaiming the sad story, kindling revenge, and rousing men to recover from


infidel hands the Mosque of 'Omar, and the scene of the Prophet's heavenly flight. But whatever the success elsewhere, the mission failed in the eastern provinces, which were occupied with their own troubles, and moreover cared little for the Holy Land, dominated as it then was by the Fatimid faith. Crowds of exiles, driven for refuge to Bagdad, and joined there by the populace, cried out for war against the Franks. But neither Sultan nor Caliph had ears to hear. For two Fridays the insurgents, with this cry, stormed the Great Mosque, broke the pulpit and throne of the Caliph in pieces, and shouted down the service. But that was all. No army went.

Mustarshid, 512-529 A.H.

The Seljuks at this time engaged by intestine war in the East, left Bagdad much to itself; and we are startled by finding Al-Mustarshid, son of the preceding Caliph, once more seeking independence in the field. Risings in Al-'Irak were at this time rife.

Dubeis and Zenki, 516 A.H.

One was led by the famous but unscrupulous general Dubeis, of the Beni Mazyad;1 in the interest of the Sultan were Aksonkur al-Bursaki, and Zenki, afterwards the terrible foe of the Crusaders. Dubeis, now on one side and now on the other according to the interest of the day, joined a rebel brother of the Sultan in a raid upon Al-'Irak, when the Caliph and Turkish Prefect of Bagdad attacked and put him to flight.

518 A.H.

After plundering Al-Basra, he joined the Crusaders in their attempt upon Aleppo, and afterwards incited a young brother of the Sultan to rebel and make a dash upon the capital;

519 A.H.

but the Caliph with 12,000 men, anticipating their movements, put them to flight.

Hostilities with the Sultan.

A year or two later, the Prefect of the city, finding the Caliph unfriendly and striving to be free, begged Mahmud, the Seljuk, of Al-'Irak,, to come to Bagdad and set bounds to his aggressive attitude. Notwithstanding the Caliph's reclamation and threat to leave his palace and retire to the western suburb, the Sultan advanced;

521 A.D.

on which the Caliph sent an army to seize Wasit, but Zenki, then Governor of Al-Basra, drove it back. The Sultan then occupied the eastern quarter of the city, but still the Caliph refused to come to terms. Then there was fighting in the

1 The Mazyadids, a branch of the Beni Asad, held sway in Al-'Irak from 403-545 A.H. (1012-1150 A.D). Their capital was Al-Hilla.


streets; and the Sultan's troops took to plundering the palace, when the Caliph (who at this time must have had large resources), coming up with 30,000 troops, put them to flight. Indeed, had he not at the moment been deserted by one of his Kurdish chiefs, it would have gone hard with the Sultan. But shortly after Zenki, arriving with heavy reinforcements from Al-Basra, so alarmed Al-Mustarshid that he gave in to the Sultan and pacified him by an offering of money and arms. The Sultan remained the greater part of the year in Bagdad, where he left Zenki as Governor of the city and of all Al-'Irak.

Career of Zenki.

This distinguished warrior grew now into great power; he was given Mesopotamia with all its dependencies, including Mosul, Nasibin, and Harran.1 He then carried his army into Syria, and with an eye on Syria with the view of reducing the Crusaders, having made peace with Jocelin, nearly took Damascus and Emesa.

522 A.H.

His powerful name at this time caused great joy in Bagdad, where the people said that at last the Crusaders had found men worthy to meet them in the field. Towards the end of Al-Mustarshid's life, however, Zenki fell into difficulty owing to the hostility of the Kurds and the Caliph.

527 A.H. 1132 A.D.

On the death of Sultan Mahmud he was recalled to the East by the designs of certain rebel members of the Seljuk house, stimulated by the Caliph and Dubeis. Here he was worsted and obliged to fly before the Caliph, who pursued him to Mosul, and besieged him there but with­out success for three months.

529 A.H.

He now resumed operations in Syria and in 529 A.H. laid siege to Damascus, but was induced, partly by the bravery of the enemy, partly at the instance of the Caliph, to whom the Governor had made some concession in the public prayers, to relinquish the attempt. Recalled again by troubles in the East, he was unable to do much against the Crusaders till after Al­ Mustarshid's death.2

1 When before Nasibin, Timurtash the Ortukid sent a letter by a carrier pigeon to tell the Governor that he would come to his succour in five days. The pigeon alighted in the camp, and Zenki substituted another letter with twenty instead of five days, and let it go into the town, which was so dispirited that it held out no longer.

2 A recent work on this important subject is W. B. Stevenson's Crusaders in the East.


Not long after, Al-Mustarshid embarked on a campaign against the Sultan Mas'ud himself.

Mustarshid murdered, 529 A.H.

He attacked the Sultan's army near Hamadan; but, deserted by his troops, was taken prisoner, and pardoned on promising not to quit his palace any more. Left in the royal tent, however, in the Sultan's absence, he was found murdered, as is supposed, by an emissary of the Assassins, who had no love for the Caliph. To remove the suspicion from himself, the Sultan threw the blame on the Caliph's old enemy, Dubeis, and had him put to death. Both Al-Mustarshid and Dubeis are praised by their contemporaries as poets of no mean name;1 and the Caliph, had he held his hand from the temptation of arms (for him a dangerous anachronism), might have built up the Caliphate by the peaceful arts he was better fitted to employ.

Rashid, 529-530 A.H.

Ar-Rashid, following his father's steps, made another but equally unfortunate attempt at independence. To avenge his father's death, he insulted the Sultan's envoy who came to demand a heavy largess, incited the mob to plunder his palace, and then, supported by Zenki, who was equally hostile because of the murder of Dubeis, set up a rival Sultan and levied war. The Sultan Mas'ud hastened to the rebellious capital, and as the Caliph dared not venture outside the walls, laid siege to it. Bagdad, well defended by the river and its canals, long resisted the attack; but at last the Caliph and Zenki, despairing of success, escaped to Mosul. The Sultan's power restored, a council was held, the Caliph deposed, and his uncle, son of Al-Mustazhir, appointed in his stead. Ar-Rashid fled to Ispahan, where he fell another victim to the Assassin's dagger.

Muktafi, 530-555 A.H.

The continued disunion and contests of the Seljuk house afforded the new Caliph, Al-Muktafi, opportunity not only of maintaining his authority in Bagdad, but of extending it throughout Al-'Irak.

551 A.H.

At the head of an organised force he was able to defend the Capital from various attacks. But he was ill-advised enough to support the rebellion of a son of the Sultan, who thereupon himself marched against Bagdad and forced the Caliph to take refuge in the eastern

1 Dubeis is mentioned with distinction in the Makamat of Al-Harir, (xxxix).


quarter, where he was only saved by the recall of the Sultan to quell a more serious rising in the East. Al-Muktafi was, however, again received into favour by the Seljuk, who betrothed himself to one of his daughters. During this Caliphate the Crusade was raging furiously, and Zenki obtaining high distinction as a brave and generous warrior both from friend and foe. At one time hard pressed, he made urgent appeal for help to Bagdad, where, yielding to popular tumult, the Sultan and the Caliph despatched 20,000 men. But in the breast neither of the Seljuks, nor of the Caliph, nor yet of their Amirs, was enthusiasm ever kindled into further effort against the Frank Crusade.

Mustanjid and Mustadi Caliphs: 555-575 A.H.

Al-Muktafi is praised by our annalists as virtuous, able, and brave. During his Caliphate of five-and-twenty years, he conducted many minor expeditions against enemies in the vicinity, but none deserving any special notice. Of the next two Caliphs there is little else to say than that they continued to occupy a more or less independent position, with a Wazir and courtly surroundings, and supported by a force sufficient for an occasional campaign of but local and ephemeral import.1 Meanwhile Nur ed-Din and Saladin were pushing their victorious arms not only against the Crusaders but against the Fatimids of Egypt.

End of Fatimid Caliphate, 567 A.H. 1171 A.D.

That dynasty was at last extinguished, having lasted for two centuries and three-quarters. Their conqueror, Saladin, though himself an orthodox Muslim, dared not at the first proclaim the Sunni faith in the midst of a people still devoted to the tenets and practice of the Shi'a sect. But he soon found himself able to do so; and thus the spiritual supremacy of the 'Abbasids again prevailed, not only in Syria, but throughout Egypt and all its dependencies.

1 I may notice, however, a characteristic scene at the elevation of Al-­Mustanjid. One of Al-Muktafi's wives wished a younger son of whom she was mother to succeed. She gained over many Amirs to her side, and had their slave-girls armed with daggers to plunge into the new Caliph as he visited his father's remains. He got scent, however, of the plot, and arming himself in mail, with a strong following, attacked the women, wounded some, drowned others, and placed the rebel son and mother in prison.

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